Video game engagement amongst the young

Following the BAFTA games awards, it is timely to examine video game usage today, particularly how young people engage with gaming and which audiences are particularly valuable to advertisers in this marketplace.

Computer gaming popular amongst all young age groups, but older youth put in most hours

Latest data from Kantar Media’s Youth TGI study of the behaviour and characteristics of 7-19 year olds shows that 84% of 15-19 year olds play computer games, as do 90% of 11-14 year olds and 92% of 7-10 year olds.

However, it is the older youths that really put the extreme hours in. A quarter of 15-19 year olds who play computer games spend more than 40 hours a week playing vs 15% of 11-14 year olds and 9% of 7-10 year olds.

Gamers today come in a variety of forms

We can get a better sense of the ways in which specific youth audiences are committed to gaming through our gaming segmentation, which splits 7-19 year olds who play computer games into four roughly equal sized groups, each representing approximately two million young people.



Leaderboard Legends

Put in long hours, fully immersed in gaming, high spend in sector and gaming is a lifestyle

Fun Focussed Fans

Put in long/medium hours, motivated by fun and like to play with friends and to escape

Mobile Centrics

Put in medium/low hours. Real focus on mobile gaming. Play to complete the game but not really engaged with gaming culture

Casual Dabblers

Put in few hours, play just to pass the time, mainly casual family friendly games

Motivations to play games differs between the groups, as does ad engagement

The fundamental approach these groups have towards gaming can be quite different. For the Leaderboard Legends, competition is key and the most popular reason for playing games is to beat other players. By contrast, the most important reason for playing games amongst Casual Dabblers is just to pass the time (38% choose this).

Given the time and sheer engagement in gaming that Leaderboard Legends have, it is perhaps not surprising that they are 29% more likely than the average young person who plays computer games to notice the adverts in games. Conversely, Mobile Centrics and - particularly - Casual Dabblers, are less likely than the average game player to do so.

Leaderboard Legends most likely to download their games directly

How they purchase games is different too. The most popular means of buying games for Leaderboard Legends is to download them from their console store. But for Fun Focussed Fans it is trade-in shops and for Mobile Centrics it is downloading from the mobile app store. This is perhaps indicative of Leaderboard Legends seeking to get hold of the very latest games as soon as they can, whilst Fun Focussed Fans are happy to wait and pay less.

Reflecting their competitive nature, the game genre that ‘Leaderboard Legends’ are most likely to play compared to the average young computer game player is 1st/3rd person shooter games. They are also particularly likely to find out about new games through playing demos, compared to the average young game player.

Leaderboard Legends completely immersed in gaming and ascribe to themselves characteristics they live in their gaming

Focussing specifically on the 11-19 year old age group, we can gain a view of what it is that really engages them in terms of what things in life they consider to be really important – crucial insights for the marketer seeking to engage specific audiences. Perhaps not surprisingly, Leaderboard Legends are 53% more likely than the average computer games player to identify computer games as ‘really important’. They are also 23% more likely to identify radio likewise and 21% more likely to pick being self-employed.

Leaderboard Legends also stand out amongst other players of computer games when asked to choose words that best describe them. They are 21% more likely to pick ‘rebellious’ and 20% more likely to choose ‘brave’ – echoing characteristics they like to adopt in the games they play.  

Different types of media will appeal to different gaming segments. Leaderboard Legends are over twice as likely as the average 11-19 year old computer games player to find newspapers exciting, whilst Mobile Centrics are 23% more likely to consider Channel 4 as having good adverts.

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